Ex-Foodstuffs boss to head Air NZ board

Air New Zealand has chosen Tony Carter, a former chief of grocery company Foodstuffs, to replace John Palmer as chairman after a 12-year stint that involved resurrecting the airline from one of its "darkest periods".

Air New Zealand has chosen Tony Carter, a former chief of grocery company Foodstuffs, to replace John Palmer as chairman after a 12-year stint that involved resurrecting the airline from one of its "darkest periods".

The announcement comes as the likelihood of the New Zealand government reducing its stake in the airline later this year grows following the partial sell-down of the first of several utility assets.

Shares in Air New Zealand struck a five-year high of $1.26 on Tuesday, making the airline one of the best performers among its peers. The stock has almost doubled over the past year.

The New Zealand government has a 73 per cent stake in the airline, and will consider within the next few weeks whether to sell down its holding. The government intends to maintain a controlling stake in the country's flag carrier, as it does with utility assets such as Mighty River Power.

Mr Carter, who is also chairman of Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, will replace Mr Palmer in September at Air New Zealand's annual meeting. The former Foodstuffs chief has been on the airline's board for two years and is also a director of Fletcher Building and ANZ's New Zealand operations.

Mr Palmer has played a key role in reviving the airline in the past decade. Mr Carter said Mr Palmer, who will remain a director until early next year, was chairman during "one of the darkest periods in the airline and corporate New Zealand's history".

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